How To Tell If An Ignitor On A Gas Furnace Is Working

gas furnaceOne of the most common problems people encounter with a gas furnace is an electronic ignition failure. Being able to tell when the ignitor of your gas furnace is not working can go a long way. This way, it will be easy for you to know if the issue is something simple or if it is one that you will need the assistance of a professional HVAC contractor.

How To Tell If Your Gas Furnace Ignitor Is Not Working

In this article, we will be giving you troubleshooting tips for a gas furnace ignitor. On top of that, we will advise on the right time to seek the help of an HVAC technician. This way, you won’t have to deal with a broken heating system in the middle of the winter, when you depend on it the most.

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Types Of Furnace Ignition Systems

Furnaces used to come with pilot lights in the past. These lights stayed on when the furnace was on. The gas valves to the burners would open to ignite the combustion gas in this type of system. The heater would not ignite if the pilot light failed.

Modern furnaces, on the other hand, are designed with electronic ignition systems. These ignitors are either hot surface ignition or intermittent pilot systems.

In the intermittent pilot system, an electric spark is used to turn on the pilot light. The valve to the burners then open once the sensor detects that the pilot light is lit. Then, the pilot ignites the burners. A hot surface ignition system, on the other hand, uses electricity to turn on the furnace. An electric current flows to the ignition area and heats it up. Once the ignition system achieves a set temperature, gas flows to the burner, and the ignitor lights it up.

The pilot light turns off in both these more modern systems, once the furnace is on. This makes them more energy-efficient compared to the older heating systems.

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What Is Electronic Ignition Gas Furnace Failure?

no heat in houseWhen your electronic gas furnace fails to ignite, it is usually due to problems with its electronic ignition system.
This causes the furnace not to produce any heat. Another problem might be that the ignition system has a delay of its ignition of the gas. When you hear a loud bang before ignition occurs, just know that you are experiencing delayed ignition.

If the ignitor turns on multiple times in succession, gases are likely to accumulate in the system. This is a severe problem, and you need to contact a furnace expert immediately to have the system examined.

Common Causes For A Gas Furnace Ignitor To Stop Working

In this section, we will discuss some of the common causes of ignitor problems.

  • Damaged Ignitor: Ignitors do wear down and can be damaged. If you have an old furnace, make sure you replace its ignitor because its life span is not as long as that of the system itself. A technician can analyze your furnace’s ignitor and tell you if it has worn out and requires replacement. The technician will remove the service panel of the furnace, remove the ignitor wires, and test it using a multimeter to inspect for damage.
  • Wrong Ignitor For Furnace: Ignition failure can result from a wrong ignitor using the incorrect voltage. For instance, a high voltage ignitor being supplied with low voltage electricity.
  • High-Temperature Limit Switch: Furnaces are designed with a device called a limit switch. This switch controls temperatures and prevents them from becoming too hot. If the furnace’s air filters are clogged, this may lead the switch to turn off the ignitor early.
  • Power Surges: An electric ignitor can be damaged power surges, therefore, causing it to burn out. Burn out due to power surges are particularly common in systems that use burning filaments such as hot surface ignitors.


Furnace Ignitor Troubleshooting Tips

It is always a good idea to know how to run simple troubleshooting for your furnace. This will help you detect any issue early enough before it grows into a major one. Some of the common troubleshooting steps are as follows:

  • Check The Power: Your furnace can fail to ignite due to a problem with the circuit breaker. An issue with the circuit breaker may prevent power from reaching your heating system. Therefore, check to see if the circuit breaker is in good condition then see if the furnace is powered up.
  • Reset The Furnace Ignitor: You need to kill the power to the furnace before resetting the ignitor. Switch off the circuit that supplies power to your unit. Look for the door to the burner. The ignitor is located behind that door. Switch the ignitor off. Do not switch the ignitor back on until five minutes have elapsed. Make sure that the door switch is engaged correctly before replacing the burner door. Turn on the switch on the main electrical panel to restart the furnace.
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Always Contact A Heating Technician Whenever Your Gas Furnace Has Issues

furnace technicianIt is recommended that when you notice any issue or malfunction with your heating system that you contact a reputable HVAC contractor. These professionals are highly trained and will determine the root cause of the issue.

On top of that, they will come up with the best remedy for your unit’s issue. With your furnace in the hands of a professional HVAC company, you can rest easy knowing that your system will be fixed and it will operate safely and efficiently.

It is always a dangerous affair to perform any DIY repairs on a gas furnace if you are not a trained HVAC technician. Apart from the obvious danger of an explosion, you can also cause further damage to the system.

Those who have tried doing it themselves have ended up regretting their decision. Therefore, contact a good HVAC company and let them do the job. As always, make sure that you work with a reputable furnace service company in your area.


Your furnace failing to ignite might be a result of other more complicated problems than just an old or worn-out ignitor. For instance, there might be dirt in the filters, something that needs a simple cleaning or filter replacement.
Therefore, when you start to experience ignitor problems, call your local professional HVAC technician to have the issue fixed.


Contact Wilcox Energy For High-Quality HVAC Services

We at Wilcox Energy provide high-quality heating and cooling services. Our technicians are NATE certified and can provide you with excellent furnace replacements, installations, repairs, and tune-ups. Wilcox Energy prioritizes indoor air quality, comfort, energy efficiency, and more. Therefore, contact us today to schedule an appointment and have our technicians visit your home and take care of the furnace.

Call Now: (860) 399-6218

For more information about our HVAC services, be sure to contact Wilcox Energy. You can click here to contact us, or you can call us at (860) 399-6218 to find out more. We offer a full line of heating and cooling repairs, maintenance services, and installations.